New Research Report – New Zealand’s Recognised Employer Scheme (RSE): 10 Year Longitudinal Case Study

13 June 2019

A new research report, authored by Dr Rochelle Bailey, is now available. It reports on the findings of a 10-year longitudinal study of 22 ni-Vanuatu temporary migrant labourers participating in New Zealand’s RSE established on 30 April 2007.

The RSE scheme was a grower-initiated policy and the objectives were two-fold: to fill the chronic shortfall of available labour in the horticulture and viticulture sectors and at the same time, New Zealand government officials promoted the RSE as a way forward for economic development in the Pacific region, via remittances sent home.

With a lack of waged employment opportunities in their home countries, many families in the Pacific region perceive labour mobility opportunities as an additional source of income that can meet individual and community needs. The positive economic and social outcomes from the RSE makes it attractive for governments, industries and Pacific workers alike, and is the reason why the scheme has seen continued expansion.

The longitudinal study has focused on three main areas:

  1. Identifying the various social and economic impacts for employers, RSE workers, their families, workers’ communities, as well as New Zealand communities in which workers reside.
  2. Knowing more about the interactions between seasonal workers, their employers and local NZ communities.
  3. Tracking how the program has changed and expanded over time, monitoring the challenges and strengthening the positive impacts while mitigating negative unintended consequences.

Participating in the RSE has benefited thousands of Pacific families through financial and material remittances and the scheme has aided hundreds of growers in getting their harvests completed, and for many, expanding their businesses. However, there is always potential scope for exploitation, especially within the horticulture and viticulture industries and beyond, as discussed in the report. The report highlights changes, challenges, experiences and opportunities during the first 10 years of RSE and makes several recommendations on possible potential problem areas.

Overall, this report argues that the positive impacts from participation in RSE strongly outweigh the negative ones, which are often unintended consequences of labour migration. Taken into consideration in this report are the financial and social costs and risks, which should be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Although there are a number of lessons to be learnt and recommendations for the future, the main purpose of this report is to ‘give back’ to those who have participated in this study and report on what has been achieved in the first decade of the scheme. Dr Bailey will present the report at the upcoming Joint Recognized Seasonal Employers (RSE) Conference to be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu in July 2019

The report can be found here.

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